Japanese Invasion

We’ve been on a sushi kick this week, so I drank far more Japanese beer and sake than I usually would:

Asahi Super Dry

The hype: “SUPER DRY went on sale in Japan on March 17, 1987. As soon as the product hit the store shelves, it became an instant bestseller. Sales expanded rapidly from major cosmopolitan areas to nationwide. While we were all convinced that we had achieved our goal of realizing the taste that the customer wanted, the actual production of SUPER DRY fell short of the growing demand. Once again, we had to take an unprecedented action: placing an apology in the newspapers for not producing SUPER DRY fast enough to meet the demand. The taste that the customer waited for Soaring sales and the popularity of SUPER DRY shook the beer industry in Japan. Other breweries also introduced dry beer in the following year, and so-called Dry Beer War broke out. Nonetheless, ASAHI SUPER DRY has continued to grow its sales, consistently being chosen for its original taste.  In response to an expanding demand for SUPER DRY, we pushed ahead with a large-scale capital investment in order to bolster our production. By 1990 all our production facilities were updated with most advanced technology and equipment. The revamping of production helped us supply more SUPER DRY, and its sales passed the milestone of 100 million cases* only 3 years after its introduction. *One case is equivalent to 20 large beer bottles, approximately 12.66 liters.  Since the launch of SUPER DRY, we have hitherto continued to improve on its production technology and quality management, and we have conducted various activities to bring the fresh and crisp taste of SUPER DRY to customers around the world. Our challenge and our search for innovation will go on to ensure that SUPER DRY tastes as good as ever.

The review: This pale lager pours very well and looks like any European lager. Aroma is hoppy with hints of pine and grass. This is pleasant and mild, the girlfriend liked it. Carbonation is medium-high, but not unpleasant. This is my favorite “Japanese” beer  so far. Nothing massively exciting, just like a Stella. This is one time where rice didn’t ruin a beer. I like this one for “light” drinking, but still prefer Stella.

 

Kirin Special Premium Reserve

The hype:With his gold label and Special Premium Reserve appellation, Ichiban outclasses and outperforms. In 1990, Ichiban’s debut made a splash in the world of super premium beers. The luxurious single wort (or first press) process yields a unique, complex flavor. With his gold label and “Special Premium Reserve” appellation, Ichiban outclasses and outperforms. But don’t be fooled by a snooty attitude — this is a great beer that goes with anything. What makes Ichiban great – Prominent wort. Finest barley malt, premium hops, smooth finish, no bitter aftertaste.”

The review: This is beautiful to look at, it is a straw yellow, develops a nice head of foam and looks great in a Pilsner, the iconic “glass of beer”. Aroma is mild, almost grassy, but not unpleasant. First sip reminds me of Stella Artois; crisp and clean. Aftertaste is slightly metallic, but not unpleasant. Carbonation is heavy and makes the mouth-feel pleasantly sharp.

Sapporo Imported

The hype: “With lush use of aroma hops, Sapporo Premium has an amazingly crisp taste, refreshing flavor, and refined bitterness to leave a clean finish.  Whether in our iconic \”Silver Can\” that is long loved by our American fans, in bottles, or on tap, Sapporo Premium can be enjoyed on any occasion.
*Sapporo Premium is not a gluten-free product.”

The review: Yes, you guessed it, straw-colored, white head, carbonated, crisp mild drinkable beer. This is not imported from Japan, it is made in California by Anheiser Busch.

 

I suppose growing up in IOM and the UK has conditioned my taste-buds; I prefer stronger ales and stouts, I find these Japanese beers too light for my general consumption. The Asahi is my favorite of the three, but none of them will find a place  in my home bar. The flavor profile of all three lends themselves well to consumption with fish, since they are very light and fizzy. I suppose that’s why they are served with Sushi. These beers are certainly better than many of the Mexican brews, but are just too light for me.

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